We talked to Catalin ADAM of TUYA Digital, an SEO & Digital Marketing Agency, and he had the following to say about it:-
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Catalin ADAM: We’re healthy, but we are constantly thinking about all the people affected by this pandemic, health-related or business-related.
This year, hopefully, all this madness will be over, and life will get back to what it used to be.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded TUYA Digital.
Catalin ADAM: I founded TUYA Digital – SEO & Digital Marketing some years ago, thinking I am going to deliver some of the best SEO services out there. Sometime later, a couple of years or more, I got to a point when I had to reshape my business model, and this was because you cannot possibly succeed by offering only pure SEO services. Some other ingredients are needed, and some other services have to be offered in order for your clients to be fully content with your services.
Let me tell you a “secret”: at the end of the day, all the clients want more clients from your services, despite of their original request.
At the very beginning of my entrepreneurial activity, I lost some accounts because I thought that by accomplishing the original request of a client, it would be enough.
The key to properly understand a client’s request is by adding “because I want more clients” at the end of it. When a client says: “Please, I want SEO services,” don’t forget to add, in your mind, the final part: “…because I want more clients”.
When I was younger, I lost accounts because I did pure SEO and the clients still weren’t happy with the tremendous increase of their organic traffic because I didn’t pay enough attention to the lead generation process and to the CRO – Conversion Rate Optimization process. I learnt my lessons; I learnt to add that magic phrase at the end of each request: “…because I want more clients”.
Now, through everything we do, we bring our clients more clients. This is, in fact, our main goal, disregard of the services offered.
At the moment, we have become a full digital agency, offering our clients from web development and web design to e-mail marketing, from SEO to digital marketing, and from mobile app customization to PR campaigns. But, more important, each time, we offer these two complementary services: Lead Generation and Conversion Rate Optimization.
How does TUYA Digital innovate?
Catalin ADAM: The interesting thing about this pandemic is that it did force us all to rethink our business model or at least to innovate to a certain extent. Some clients went bankrupt or paused their business for a while; others were simply shut down completely because of the restrictions. We had to survive this crisis somehow, and innovation and diversification of our services were the keys.
The fact is that it was only during this pandemic when we first thought about starting doing something more profitable, something to bring us a better ROI. And that something was starting to extend our services and also starting building brands for our own company. This is how we developed new platforms which we can take advantage of in the long term.
During this pandemic, our team successfully extended our skills by customizing mobile apps, a new service which we are going to present to potential customers. This is going to enhance our reach for customers, and it is also going to bring us more ROI – it’s one thing to be able to develop a website for a customer; it’s another thing to be able to customize an app. The profitability rate is higher in the second case, which is better, especially during this pandemic crisis.
Also, we developed two online platforms, which we are going to present to potential investors, platforms which we consider to be disruptive in their industries. One of them innovated in the event organizing industry, and the other one is innovating in the recruiting market. Both are going to bring us two main opportunities: financing them to further development and presenting them to potential customers abroad who would like to develop similar platforms in their countries.
The fact is the pandemic made us focus our attention on developing our own innovative products which could help us on a long term, but also made us offering new services, which help us on a short term.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Catalin ADAM: Our company helps lots of clients, some in the online business, some in the offline business. It is easy for some to think that the online has exploded recently and to consider that everybody who is working in the online industry, such as our company, has automatically seen his business thriving during this pandemic. It is not at all like so.
Two conclusive examples: we have two different clients whose businesses were temporarily closed during the pandemic because of the rules imposed – one is a restaurant, the other is an HR company recruiting personnel from Asia to bring it to work in Europe. It is clear that both these clients paused their contracts, and we understood the situation.
Our financial situation is stable, we get more clients on a monthly basis, but still, if it wasn’t for this pandemic, there would’ve been more clients in our portfolio. On the other hand, with more clients in our responsibility, we wouldn’t have had enough time to develop our own innovative products, as mentioned above.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Catalin ADAM: What we learnt from this pandemic is that working from home is not an option, especially when you have teams to coordinate and tasks to be accomplished in time.
People talk and share ideas when working one next to the other, and the coordination is done easier. When on a conference video call, there are thoughts lost, ideas not shared, feelings not expressed. Those who say that working from home is better than in a real office, along with your colleagues, don’t really have a team or don’t belong to a team.
“Please, make this button blue, not red” from when you are next to each other in an office changes into a 5-minute long call when working from home, something like: “Hi, how are you…yes, I know…me, too… Listen, please, can you open the platform? You are doing laundry? Aaaa…I’ll call you back, then. Pardon? You’re available? A, OK. Please, open the project and go to the homepage. Please, click on the third menu button, the ABOUT US. Yes. It’s that red button there on the page. No. The other one. Near the footer. The one where it says…yes, that one. Can you, please, make it blue for me? Yes. Whenever possible. OK. Listen…have you talked to Dan recently? He’s got a crush on you, hasn’t he? etc…”
Sorry for this explicit imaginative one-person-perspective conversation, but this is what happens in real life when people work from home. If you don’t know this kind of things happens, it means you simply lack your common sense, but I know it’s not the case.
My advice: if you can safely work at the office, do it! A real team would love to work together.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Catalin ADAM: Here, we didn’t have any difficulties. The fact is that we have clients from all over the world, and therefore, pandemic or not, our relationship with them was 100% online. We still speak to them online or by phones, we still have video calls, we still offer them reports on e-mails each month, they still pay our bills online—no change here, but a higher concern about their health and about their business.
We did struggle to help each one of them to survive this terrible period.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Catalin ADAM: We did not apply for grants, governmental or other types. We simply did what we do best, and our clients helped us during this period by staying with us. In fact, there was a reciprocal help, as, by everything we did, we helped them survive the pandemic as well.
Your final thoughts?
Catalin ADAM: Innovation doesn’t have to be disruptive or spectacular. Innovation could be a new way of sending your reports to your clients or a new approach to doing daily tasks. Innovation is wherever one finds an innovative way to become more efficient or to offer more with less time and effort.
Apart from that, innovative or not, at the end of this pandemic, all the surviving entrepreneurs and all the surviving companies will be stronger and will know they can survive any other crisis whatsoever.
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